Coming home from church yesterday, there were many extra cars parked near our house (we are one house away from the corner house). We pulled in the driveway, and noticed that two of our next door neighbor's sons were on the threshold, waiting, watching us get out of our car. They wanted to be sure we were OK with what was about to happen.
Nick had been sick for a year and a half. All I could ask was: is everything alright? They informed us that their father had passed away that morning, and that the folks from the funeral home were getting ready to carry him out. So we stood right there, watching our neighbor go on his last journey. It was then I realized that one of the cars was a hearse.
I haven't yet had a chance to talk with Joan, his wife; NickandJoan we called our neighbors, always their names in one breath. We knew Nick had been sick with lung cancer. He fought a long and brave battle, with small successes like disappearing tumors, but he was never able to stop smoking. Time and again he would go out back, out the kitchen door, and light yet another cigarette. He was a lifelong smoker, a gentle man, always speaking with us over the fence, commenting on our flowers; he had a soft spot for a big grey cat that always came and hung out near him, in the sun. A year ago this December, he turned 75 and I made him a hat because he had lost all his hair due to the chemo. The one small thing I could do for him. He wore it all that winter.
I do wish he had been able to quit. I know he did his darndest to not expose his wife to second hand smoke, but those cigarettes sure had a firm grip on him. He told me a few times that smoking gets him through the stress of having cancer.
If you know anyone who smokes, please encourage them to quit today. Cigarettes literally take your breath away.